Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our daily roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics - from the MilBlogs and various sources around the world. If you're a blogger, you can join the conversation. If you link to any of these stories, add a link to the Dawn Patrol too and your trackback will be added to the list. Hat Tips to the Dawn Patrol are greatly appreciated.
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Deep Breaths -- [Rajiv Srinivasan - in Afghanistan]
Today is April 1, 2010...it's my 24th Birthday. And of course, the first thing I saw before I went to bed yesterday was my own face and body. I saw them in a mirror in the new shower trailer they're installing on our COP. Had it been any other day, I don't think I would have cared. But it's my birthday. I'm one year older, and most of that year was spent in Afghanistan. I stared at my own face like a ghost... "Aging is adding years to your life; growing is adding life to your years."...
Murder at Blue 25: British soldier speaks of betrayal in Afghanistan -- [Sean Rayment/The Telegraph (UK) - in Afghanistan]
A British soldier has spoken about how he survived a betrayal by an Afghan policeman who ran amok and killed five of his colleagues.
It was a typical balmy late Autumn afternoon in the British base known as "Blue 25"...
"I remember it being a beautiful day", recalled LSgt Baily. "I was on the roof because one of my radio antennae had broken and it was the only way I could get a signal.
"We had just finished lunch, and most of the soldiers were sitting on a small wall in the courtyard."
It was then that a lone gunman, who until that moment the troops had regarded as a friend and comrade, stepped out of the shadows and opened fire...
Violence Helps Taliban Undo Afghan Gains -- [NY Times]
Just a few weeks since the start of the operation here, the Taliban have "reseized control and the momentum in a lot of ways" in northern Marja, Maj. James Coffman, civil affairs leader for the Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, said in an interview in late March. "We have to change tactics to get the locals back on our side." ...
Push meets shove -- [Greyhawk]
...obviously, Obama's latest attempt to explain to Karzai what an awful job he's doing over there in Kabul didn't go well. (But by the way kids, this - another "Karzai's brother is a criminal, some say" report - and not Karzai's comment, was actually post-visit round one.)
In its turn the White House has expressed concerns. And apparently, Kazai and Secretary Clinton had a phone call today...
Karzai Slams the West Again -- [Wall Street Journal]
KABUL, Afghanistan--President Hamid Karzai lashed out at his Western backers for the second time in three days, accusing the U.S. of interfering in Afghan affairs and saying the Taliban insurgency would become a legitimate resistance movement if the meddling doesn't stop.
Karzai's Words Leave Few Choices for the West -- [NY Times]
There are no good options on the horizon, many analysts say, for reining in Mr. Karzai or for penalizing him, without potentially damaging Western interests. The reluctant conclusion of diplomats and Afghan analysts is that for now, they are stuck with him.
U.S. Admits Role in Killing of Afghan Women -- [NY Times]
KABUL, Afghanistan -- After initially denying involvement or any cover-up in the deaths of three Afghan women during a badly bungled American Special Operations assault in February, the American-led military command in Kabul admitted late on Sunday that its forces had, in fact, killed the women during the nighttime raid.
US special forces 'tried to cover-up' botched Khataba raid in Afghanistan -- [Times (UK) Online]
US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims' bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened, Afghan investigators have told The Times.
Easter -- [270 Days in Afghanistan - in Afghanistan]
The morning dawned bright on this April day, and as we took stock of our surroundings, we realized that today was Easter. How about that? It seems like just yesterday we were talking about Christmas away from home and how much of a bummer it was that we wouldn't be able to spend it with our families. Well....fast forward to today, and the mood was quite different...
Easter 2010, St Elijah Monastery, Iraq -- [Greyhawk/Milblogs TV]
Easter in Baghdad -- [Yasmine Mousany/NY Times/At War - in Iraq]
Until 2003, no Sunday sermon, Friday prayer or any other occasion would take place without the sentence, "Long Live the Leader, Saddam Hussein." This day's sermon contained a prayer for Iraq. "Bear in mind that we are the sons of this wounded country," Father Cacha said. "Pray for it."
In one voice the congregation replied, "Amen."
As I left the church, I heard the Muslim call to prayer. This is the Iraq I miss, in which the ringing of church bells entwines with the calls to prayer...
"Blood will be shed" -- [Greyhawk]
If this is pessimism, it's not your typical, "Iraq unraveling" hand wringing: "Iraqi politics is a full contact sport, and blood will be shed. Nor will the battle be primarily sectarian. It will be a Shiia-on- Shiia affair. If it doesn't end up in a civil war, it will look like a Chicago gang war before it is over."
If events play out as he describes (and I'm not convinced they will - but the people of Iraq tend to defy expectations) US forces in Iraq will find themselves in a very different situation than what confronted us in 2006...
All in all it's a drama worthy of much attention and getting none. Should it become more "action-oriented" (what the ADD kids think of as attention worthy) that ignorance will be a tragic shame.
Suicide bombers target embassies in Iraq, kill 42 -- [AP]
BAGHDAD -- Suicide attackers detonated three car bombs in quick succession near foreign embassies in Baghdad on Sunday, killing more than 40 people in coordinated strikes that Iraqi officials said were intended to disrupt efforts to form a new government.
The bombings followed the execution-style killings of 24 villagers in a Sunni area two days earlier, a spike in violence that suggests insurgents are seizing on the political uncertainty after the recent election to try to destabilize the country as U.S. troops prepare to leave. No clear winner emerged from the March 7 vote...
On Friday, gunmen trying to pass themselves off as U.S. and Iraqi soldiers raided a Sunni village outside Baghdad and killed at least 24 people in an execution-style attack, apparently targeting a Sunni group that revolted against al-Qaida in Iraq.
Deadly raid on Sunni village renews fear of sectarian violence in Iraq -- [McClatchy Newspapers]
"Terrorists wearing Iraqi army uniforms and using SUVs stormed three houses of relatives, most of them are members of the local Awakening council," said a ranking officer in Iraq's Ministry of Interior who asked not to be identified because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media. "They took men and women out, handcuffed them with metal handcuffs, and executed them."
..."We detained 17 suspects and imposed a curfew in the area" said Qassim Atta, the spokesman for Baghdad operations of the Iraqi army. He said that most of the victims were members of Iraqi security forces and the Awakening group.
Atta said the Iraqi army also found seven people handcuffed and freed them. Iraqi authorities also found one of the cars the gunmen used.
...Maj. Mohammed al Askari, a spokesman of the Defense Ministry, said villagers told Iraqi soldiers that the gunmen came from a nearby village. He said 25 suspects had been arrested, and that some had confessed to committing the attack.
New Painting -- [Ramblings from a Painter - in Iraq]
This afternoon was my "weekend". I did this small painting from some photos that I took last summer of a kid who sold bootleg DVDs on the street near our compound in the IZ...
..he always had this worried, slightly desperate look on his face...
My Dad on Political Violence -- [Neil Gussman - Home From Iraq]
My Dad's stories about World War 2 were a big part of my childhood...
Shortly after he was assigned to Camp Shenango in PA, he was the officer on duty on a weekend. That weekend there was a race riot. My Dad went out of the headquarters and found himself in front of an armed mob. He said the young soldier in front had "a 30 Ought 6 aimed right at my belly button." My father told the soldier with the rifle to "take it easy." Then he heard someone in the back say "shoot the white . . . "
Hearing the cowards in the back egging the man in front on, my Dad spoke to the shaking young man in front with the rifle. "If you pull that trigger the MPs are going to shoot you. If they don't shoot you they'll hang you. Nothing will happen to the son of a bitch in the back telling you what to do." ...
EXCLUSIVE: Iran Nuclear Scientist Defects to U.S. In CIA 'Intelligence Coup' -- [ABC News]
An award-winning Iranian nuclear scientist, who disappeared last year under mysterious circumstances, has defected to the CIA and been resettled in the United States, according to people briefed on the operation by intelligence officials...
A spokesperson for the CIA declined to comment.
Russia offers Venezuela nuclear help, Chavez says -- [AP]
CARACAS, Venezuela - Russia has agreed to help Venezuela draw up plans for a nuclear power plant, President Hugo Chavez said Friday.
Atomic energy was one of many areas of cooperation discussed as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made his first visit to the South American country.
"We're ready to start drawing up the first plan of a nuclear power plant, obviously with peaceful aims," Chavez said.
Russian Arms Sales to Venezuela Could Total $5 Billion -- [Voice of America]
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says Russia could sell as much as $5 billion worth of weapons to Venezuela.
Mr. Putin spoke in Moscow Monday, following his first visit to the South American country...
The United States has previously cautioned Venezuela against continuing its arms buildup, warning its actions could endanger regional stability.
North Korea Accuses South Korean Troops of Firing Toward its Border -- [Voice of America]
North Korea's state-run news agency says South Korean forces committed what it calls a "grave armed provocation" Sunday. It says they fired toward a North Korean police post in the eastern part of the demilitarized zone. South Korea's military says no such incident took place.
Pyongyang regularly accuses Seoul of raising tensions between the two states, which remain technically at war since a 1953 truce that ended the Korean War.
US consulate attacked in NW Pakistan -- [AP]
PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Islamist militants attacked a U.S. consulate in northwest Pakistan with car bombs and grenades Monday, killing three people, hours after 41 people died in a suicide attack on a political rally elsewhere in the region.
...Al-Qaida and Taliban militants have long vowed to attack the United States, which has fired scores of missiles at them in their northwestern strongholds over the last year and a half. Washington has also given billions of dollars in aid to the Pakistani army, which is also attacking the Muslim extremists.
...The last attack against a U.S. mission was in Karachi in 2006...
Libya Lets Loose al-Qaeda -- [Michael Totten]
Libya just released 214 al-Qaeda members from Tripoli's Abu Salim prison. Seif al Islam, son of President Moammar Qaddafi, says hundreds more will be turned out soon, which will bring the number of freed Libyan terrorists up to almost 1,000.
Report: 2nd Moscow suicide bomber was teacher -- [AP]
A Russian newspaper quotes a man as saying that one of the Moscow suicide bombers may have been his daughter, a 28-year-old teacher named Maryam Sharilova.
Novaya Gazeta quotes Rasul Magomedov as saying that a photograph of the suicide bomber looks like his daughter and that she was wearing the same red scarf the last time he saw her...
Report: Military could be underestimating troops' compensation -- [Stars and Stripes]
Add in health care, retirement and additional tax breaks, and the difference between military and civilian pay jumped to $13,360 for enlisted servicemembers and $24,870 for officers.
Yet the GAO report, which was released Friday, said the military might be underestimating compensation because past studies often failed to take into account health benefits, retirement, commissary privileges, burial expenses and other forms of payment, such as hazardous duty pay or signing bonuses.
Snyder-Phelps fight has many twists, turns -- [Military Times]
YORK, Pa. -- Albert Snyder's eyes well up with tears when recalling his son's funeral.
More than 1,200 people packed St. John Catholic Church in Westminster, Md., on March 10, 2006, to pay their respects to 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who died when his Humvee rolled over in Iraq's Anbar province while he manned the vehicle's gun turret.
On their trip from the church to a nearby veterans cemetery, small-town patriotism was on full display. Cars pulled over and allowed the funeral procession to pass. Strangers on the street saluted.
"I've never seen a funeral like this in my life," the father said during an interview in his hometown, his voice wavering. "It was just amazing to see."
The funeral was marred, however, by seven uninvited guests -- members of the Westboro Baptist Church flew in from their headquarters in Topeka, Kan., to picket outside the church service.
Carrying signs reading "Semper Fi Fags," "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "Thank God for IEDs," the group infuriated passersby and mourners -- just as its members have at hundreds of military funerals across the country before and since.
Led by founder Fred Phelps, the group maintains that God kills U.S. troops as punishment for the country's tolerance of homosexuality, greed and abortion.
Snyder wasn't going to take that lying down...
Thousands of vets missing out on better benefits -- [AP/Stars and Stripes]
Only a fraction of wounded veterans who could get better benefits have applied in the two years since Congress, acting on concerns the military was cutting costs by downplaying injuries, ordered the Pentagon to review disputed claims.
As of mid-March, only 921 vets have applied out of the 77,000 the Pentagon estimates are eligible, according to numbers provided to The Associated Press by the Physical Disability Board of Review. The panel was created in 2008 but started taking cases in January 2009.
Seven Hundred and forty-six reasons to never use Priceline.com -- [From my Position... on the Way!]
I am all set to go to the Milblogcon 2010.
I made sure I was arriving early on Friday morning, because there are some events I wanted to attend (which includes, as it turns out, a visit to the Pentagon to Welcome home Wounded Warriors. The same visit I made almost five years ago, just on the other side of the wheelchair. Also a trip to Bethesda, to hand out Valour-IT laptops and other assistance technology, including one for this young Marine.
Then I checked my itinerary from priceline.com...
Milblog Conference -- [Baldilocks]
This year's Milblog Conference will be held from 9-10 April--next week obviously--and not only will I be there, I'll be one of the panelists...
About the milbloggies -- [From my Position... on the Way!]
I've kept it to myself, but this year I've managed to get myself in a bit of trouble over my unvarnished, venomous opinions of malfeasance and idiocy in the gummint and media.
It had to happen sooner or later.
No, I'm not quitting. You may have noticed the more toned-down posts, and that's why. My very opinionated writing eventually resulted in a Letter of Reprimand from a General Officer...
If I screw up again, the reprimand goes in my record--and kills my career.
Thoughts on a Kindle -- [Ramblings from a Painter - in Iraq]
A bit over a year ago, my wife bought me a Kindle. It was a pretty cool little gadget. I could carry around a ton of books without carrying around a ton of weight. It was pretty easy to operate and the screen was easy on the eyes. No flicker, like you get from computer screens. I became a Kindle advocate and got into lots of conversations with strangers about this little "iPod-for-books".
But on my last trip back to Iraq, something on the Kindle's screen went wrong, and the top inch or so doesn't work anymore. That meant that every time I turned the page, a couple of lines went missing. I figured out a workaround and was able to finish the book I was reading, but then was faced with the question, do I get a replacement, or no?
I decided, no. ...
The Taliban Arrest Wave in Pakistan: Reasserting Strategic Depth? -- [/CTC Sentinel (pdf)]
...The wave of arrests follows years of meager results in capturing Afghan Taliban leaders in Pakistan. The arrests have been perceived in the United States as a veritable about-face in Pakistan's counterterrorism policy. U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, for example, called the arrests "another high-water mark for Pakistani and American collaboration." Bruce Riedel, who led the Barack Obama administration's policy review on both countries in spring 2009, called the arrest of Baradar a "sea change in Pakistani behavior."
A closer look, however, reveals that the arrests may not represent a clear change in Pakistan's policy toward the Afghan Taliban. All of those recently arrested were seeking political negotiations with the Afghan government, circumventing Pakistan-controlled channels. This article contends that the arrests may be an attempt by the Pakistani government to regain control over the Afghan Taliban's political agenda and, in a broader sense, over the "reconciliation" process announced by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Drones Batter Al Qaeda and Its Allies Within Pakistan -- [NY Times]
A stepped-up campaign of American drone strikes over the past three months has battered Al Qaeda and its Pakistani and Afghan brethren in the tribal area of North Waziristan, according to a mid-ranking militant and supporters of the government there.
Drone Wars: The Legal Debate Continues -- [Nathan Hodge/Danger Room]
Last week, the State Department's top legal adviser laid out the administration's case for using drones to fight al Qaeda and its allies. Now the drone war is starting to generate some real legal debate...
The Spaces in Between: Operating on the Afghan Border (or Not) -- [Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Kelley and Lieutenant Colonel Scott Sweetser/Small Wars Journal]
"It must be remembered that Afghanistan has for centuries been rather a geographical expression than a country" --G.A. Henty, For Name and Fame (1900), p. 248
Henty's formulation, captured here from the Boys' Own Adventure genre of fiction popular among empires past, may be cliché and contradictory; but clichés and contradictions can be found in abundance around the Afghan border town of Spin Boldak. Along a jagged, ominous spine of rock in the center of town, a centuries-old fortress looms above the modern blue-roofed, pre-fabricated structures which house private contractors hired to train the border police manning the crumbling fortifications. Narrow, dust-blown alleys and acres of scrap-metal shops are punctuated by walled compounds stuffed to overflowing with gleaming, modern vehicles shipped duty free across the border from Pakistan, before ultimately returning - again duty free - to Pakistani markets in a kind of massive, international game of three-card Monte. The local commander of the Afghan Border Police is at once a demonstrably staunch ally against Taliban insurgents, and the subject of countless accusations of corruption, narcotics smuggling and arms dealing.
Nothing is quite what it seems
For Name and Fame -- [G. A. Henty, Illustrated by Gordon Browne]
In following the hero of this story through the last Afghan war, you will be improving your acquaintance with a country which is of supreme importance to the British Empire and, at the same time, be able to trace the operations by which Lord Roberts made his great reputation as a general, and a leader of men. Afghanistan stands as a line between the two great empires of England and Russia; and is likely, sooner or later, to become the scene of a tremendous struggle between these nations. Happily, at the present time the Afghans are on our side. It is true that we have warred with, and beaten them; but our retirement, after victory, has at least shown them that we have no desire to take their country while, on the other hand, they know that for those races upon whom Russia has once laid her hand there is no escape.
Air Force to Launch Robotic Spacecraft -- [AP/Fox]
LOS ANGELES -- After a decade of development, the Air Force this month plans to launch a robotic spacecraft resembling a small space shuttle to conduct technology tests in orbit and then glide home to a California runway.
The ultimate purpose of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle and details about the craft, which has been passed between several government agencies, however, remain a mystery as it is prepared for launch April 19 from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Pentagon Wants Troop Poop Porta-Reactors -- [Danger Room]
The Pentagon's got a new idea for generating renewable power at overseas military bases, and it's an eco-friendly initiative inspired by one of nature's most irrefutable truths: everyone poops.
It's no surprise that Darpa, the military's risk-taking research agency, is behind this one. They're requesting information on approaches to developing portable nuclear reactors that could generate electricity and fuel for land and water-based operations. And they want the systems to be sustainable for "several years" in off-the-grid locales. That means "indigenous feedstocks" are the preferred fuel source. What could be more indigenous, Darpa asks, than human waste?
U.N. chief shocked by shrinking lake -- [AP/MSNBC]
NUKUS, Uzbekistan - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday called the drying up of the Aral Sea one of the planet's most shocking disasters and urged Central Asian leaders to step up efforts to solve the problem.
Once the world's fourth-largest lake, the sea has shrunk by 90 percent since the rivers that feed it were largely diverted in a Soviet project to boost cotton production in the arid region. (Via Registan)
The Green Hornet -- [Greyhawk]
An F/A-18 Super Hornet from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 with green markings and the U.S. Department of the Navy Energy Security logo is in the hangar at Andrews Air Force Base. VX-23 will be testing the full envelope of the Super Hornet with a drop in replacement biofuel made from the camelina plant in an effort to certify alternative fuels for naval aviation use.
Natural Security News -- [CNAS/Natural Security blog]
Army secretary does about-face on DADT moratorium -- [Stars and Stripes]
On Wednesday, McHugh said, "What [Defense Secretary Robert Gates] has placed a moratorium on is going forward on discharges," he said. "It is not so stated, but I think a reasonable assumption."
On Thursday, McHugh issued a statement saying there was no such moratorium...
McHugh also backtracked from his comments the day before about not discharging soldiers who told him in confidence that they were gay, saying he should have done a better job explaining to soldiers who approached him that their conversations were not confidential and could result in their separation.
McHugh said he doesn't recall whom he spoke with.
"Because of the informal and random manner in which these engagements occurred, I am unable to identify these soldiers and I am not in a position to formally pursue the matter," he said in the statement.
Defense officials said McHugh issued the statement on his own initiative.
David Petraeus for President: Run General, run -- [The Telegraph (UK)]
Americans have never been so disgusted with their politicians. More than three-quarters of Americans disapprove of Congress. President Barack Obama's favourability ratings have slumped to below 50 per cent and he is no longer trusted or believed by many who voted for him.
Republicans are faring little better and the growth of the Tea Party movement reflects the widespread disgust with Washington and the political class. Incumbents across the board are vulnerable in November's mid-term elections...
In this toxic climate, perhaps the only public institution that has increased in prestige in recent years is the American military. Its officers are looked upon, as General George Patton once noted, as "the modern representatives of the demi-gods and heroes of antiquity".
Where better to look for Obama's successor, therefore, than in the uniformed ranks? Not since 1952, when a certain Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during the Second World War, was elected President, have the chances of a military man winning the White House been more propitious...
The Best Defense interview: Petraeus on not running for president, pirates, President Obama & 'The Blind Side' -- [Tom Ricks]
I noticed the other day that Gen. David Petraeus has been speaking all over the place and I figured if the Provo, Utah, newspaper could get an interview, so might I. So I did. This is what he had to say. His responses are given here in full and unedited.
If I were writing this as a news story, I'd probably hype the "review of concept" meeting he mentions on Afghanistan. But it isn't.
Best Defense: What do you think Americans aren't noticing about your Area of Responsibility right now that you think they should?
SFC Paul Ray Smith -- [Mrs greyhawk]
April 4, is the anniversary of the death of SFC Paul Ray Smith, the first recipient of the Medal of Honor KIA in Iraq in 2003.
"...The consequences were dire. If Smith's troops broke, the Iraqi troops would be able to move potentially unimpeded from the courtyard gate all the way to a nearby command center, flanking a mortar unit, and overrunning a station that held both the wounded and several embedded journalists..."
This week in the (mainstream media) History of the Iraq War -- [Greyhawk]
As the Mrs reminded us, April 4th marked the 5th anniversary of the day SFC Paul Ray Smith earned the Medal of Honor during the battle for what was then known as Saddam Hussein International Airport... That story didn't make the news that day. That's hardly a condemnation of reporters; obviously much time would pass before events of that nature (in the midst of a war) could be sorted out and accurately reported.
So what did make news from Iraq on 4 April, 2003? Here's Robert Fisk's report from that same airport...
Sacrifice and salvation -- [Greyhawk]
Easter Sunday, 1972: "...the U.S. was withdrawing its forces from Vietnam, my ship was off the southern tip of South Vietnam, replenishing some small boys, and headed to Thailand for liberty. But on March 30, 1972, we were ordered to make best speed for the gunline off the DMZ because the North Vietnamese, with tanks and regular army troops were rolling across the DMZ..."
2004: On April 4th, 2004, al'Sadr's Mahdi forces blocked roadways and bridges with burning tires, vehicles and trash... A battle raged across Sadr City. Insurgents assaulted American troops while looters and mobs formed and stormed through the streets. Word spread quickly across the American FOBs that there was trouble...
Casey Sheehan's Sergeant asked for volunteers. Sheehan had just returned from Mass...
A History Lesson -- [Greyhawk]
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